Mythic Quest — the Apple TV+ sitcom about the world’s most popular role-playing video game company and the kooks who staff it — returns today for a third season of behind-the-scenes insanity and power plays.
Poppy and Ian are nearly at each other’s throats working together at their new company. And David and Carol are panicking now that they have no idea what to do with Mythic Quest.
Mythic Quest recap: Season 3
Season 2, episodes 1 and 2: When we last left the Mythic Quest crew members, they were breaking up. Poppy Li (played by Charlotte Nicdao) and Ian Grim (Rob McElhenney) formed their own company, Grim Pop, and are currently weighing a $50 million buyout from an investor.
David (David Hornsby) and Jo (Jessie Ennis) are still back at Mythic Quest, preparing for a birthday party for author C.W. Longbottom (F. Murray Abraham), upon whose books the game is based.
Game testers Rachel (Ashly Burch) and Dana (Imani Hakim) are gonna be late to that party. They’re both going to school, though Dana’s out now and wants a job at Grim Pop. Carol (Naomi Ekperigin) has been promoted, but struggles to figure out what she does at Mythic Quest; this is because no one is sure anymore. Brad (Danny Pudi), meanwhile, is in jail for insider trading, though he’s a shoo-in for parole. Carol hires him as a janitor the minute he gets out.
Grim realizations at Grim Pop
The more Poppy thinks about the $50 million offer, the more she realizes she’s completely unsure about everything unless Ian gives her permission to think something. So when she turns down the money, and the even-higher counteroffer,
Ian is furious because he thought she was on the same page as he was. Between that and Ian’s attempts to get the company to embrace the metaverse and NFTs, it’s looking increasingly like they aren’t on the same page about anything.
A message from C.W. Longbottom
C.W. never arrives at his party, incidentally. He killed himself when he found he was diagnosed with a terminal illness and left everyone at Mythic Quest a note explaining his choice. He says in his last missive that he learned he should have let more people in and made more friends, that success isn’t everything.
That’s a tough pill for Ian to swallow because he’s used to thinking in world-changing, success-minded terms. As Poppy spends her day coding their new game, Ian is adrift with nothing big picture to focus on.
He’s driving her nuts. He keeps trying to micromanage everything, from her look to her diet. They can’t agree on a strategy to move forward, and it might torpedo the company, turning them into as big an aimless mess as Mythic Quest.
Don’t say ‘dogs’!
I am quite grateful to be back at Mythic Quest. I love the cast and the show’s writers, who hit eight times out of 10 (which is better than a lot of Apple TV+ shows).
McElhenney’s (who also directs) neurotic self-involvement is still rock solid; he knows exactly what he’s doing. Very fine examples arrive every time he takes Poppy to his wall of inspirational figures. He tries to give her pep talks but winds up coming off worse than he imagined, like when he accidentally paraphrases Elizabeth Holmes and Poppy brings the clip up to play behind him. Very good.
The Poppy Li show
Poppy remains one of the greatest characters on TV — so good, in fact, that she kind of makes everyone here look like they’re slouching.
They aren’t, of course. David Hornsby is a great comic nebbish. Burch and Hakim are high-energy and very likable. And Jessie Ennis has her moments, even though the over-determined version of Jo can sometimes become cloyingly pleased with itself. (Her best moment comes in episode two, when she asks David if she’s still evil. He has no idea what answer will make her happy, as she frowns flamboyantly at him. Stuff like that makes you grateful for this performance.)
Still, Mythic Quest is, or has become, the Poppy Li show. Nicdao proves absolutely magnificent as a creature of pure, gross id.
The best bit so far has her discovering that Ian has hidden ice cream sandwiches from her. She digs them out of the trash and eats them as they melt all over her at a staff meeting.
“Carol, Poppy’s acting like a cat! Make her stop!” Ian screams as Poppy licks the ice cream off her wrists. Then she storms off, knocking items off the nearest desk. Excellent. Sublime. Give her an EGOT.
Some minor missteps
I mentioned the writers hit their comedy mark 80% of the time, but when do they miss? The eulogies don’t work in the season three opener. That’s understandable, though. Comedy eulogies are, for some reason, an extremely difficult thing for writers to get right. Everything people are laughing about is inevitably not funny, and bears little resemblance to the characters they’re sending off.
But mostly Mythic Quest unearths pure comedic gems. Poppy isn’t the most relatable character but her mix of abject, gross-out habits and her genius make her a peculiarly aspirational figure. You can eat garbage, sleep at your desk after hours of coding, and still not really be appreciated, but know deep down you’re doing your best work.
There’s a kind of very modern quality to that, and it makes Mythic Quest consistently engaging. Don’t we all want something to finally fall into place? To be rewarded for years of putting ourselves last at the expense of the work we do? No? Just me? Moving on.
I cannot wait to catch up with the rest of this season of Mythic Quest. It looks like it’s going to be a good one.
Watch Mythic Quest on Apple TV+
The first two episodes of Mythic Quest season three premiere on November 11, 2022. New episodes arrive on Apple TV+ on the following Fridays.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.